Friday, January 28, 2011

Musical Interlude ~Who Will The Next Fool Be?~ Various Artists

This is an old Charlie Rich song I have a particular fondness for, having lived it several times. I'm including the original version, by Charlie Rich himself, and an unusual take by Mark Knopfler and zucherro. Last, there's my personal favorite, one by the best band that never made it, the Amazing Rhythm Aces.

So take your pick, kick back with your beverage of choice, and enjoy.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snow Go

Snow Go

Snow sparrows shy from the black
unnatural rubber of the car on iced asphalt.
Winter throws softballs against the glass,
trees seem to bend away in the distance
wishing the snow that blankets the road
could hide it, block it
and let their secret world continue
without my car, my fumes, my noise, my uselessness.

January 2011

Also posted for Friday Flash 55 fiction at the G-man's

Posted for Magpie Tales #50

Uncredited photo provided by magpie tales removed

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Off the Shelf Archive - January #3

Wrapping up January with a final Off the Shelf selection, and this time it will be two short poems by the 20th Century American poet and writer Richard Brautigan (1935-1984) Brautigan wrote during the end of the Beat era and the full onslaught of the 60's counterculture years with black humor and directness. He may be best known for his longer works like A Confederate General from Big Sur or Trout Fishing in America, but his poetry has a sad and clean feel well worth a read or reread. Friend of the blog the walking man suggested 
Karma Repair Kit, Items 1-4, and I've added  Hinged to Forgetfulness Like a Door.  

You'll find them here in Off The Shelf Archive for February, #1

As always, feel free to comment on either poem or make suggestions for next time here, as comments are disabled off the main page.

Thanks to the walking man for the  Brautigan rec, and you can find his own ever-intriguing writings here on his blog, The Walking Man

Here for a last look is the prior selection,  Pablo Neruda's excellent poem, Cat's Dream

Cat’s Dream

How neatly a cat sleeps,
Sleeps with its paws and its posture,
Sleeps with its wicked claws,
And with its unfeeling blood,
Sleeps with ALL the rings a series
Of burnt circles which have formed
The odd geology of its sand-colored tail.

I should like to sleep like a cat,
With all the fur of time,
With a tongue rough as flint,
With the dry sex of fire and
After speaking to no one,
Stretch myself over the world,
Over roofs and landscapes,
With a passionate desire
To hunt the rats in my dreams.

I have seen how the cat asleep
Would undulate, how the night flowed
Through it like dark water and at times,
It was going to fall or possibly
Plunge into the bare deserted snowdrifts.

Sometimes it grew so much in sleep
Like a tiger's great-grandfather,
And would leap in the darkness over
Rooftops, clouds and volcanoes.

Sleep, sleep cat of the night with
Episcopal ceremony and your stone-carved moustache.
Take care of all our dreams
Control the obscurity
Of our slumbering prowess
With your relentless HEART
And the great ruff of your tail.

Pablo Neruda

Image: Sleeping Cat, Pierre Auguste Renoir, 1862, courtesy google image search

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hedgerider's Lament~Part II

Hedgerider's Lament~Part I can be found here
Hedgerider's Lament~Part III can be found here

The Hedgerider's Lament
Part II: Candlemas Sestina

Winter rides the leafless hedgerow, black and aching for the thaw
a frozen masque of mummers misbegotten by the hag.
A dying moth in winter’s web, I’m null, unwarmed by fire.
I call to the guardian of the living earth to forsake her vestal  well
to bring her yellow days and put an end to the strangling white;
instead of snow make milk for lambs and wake the sleeping sun.

I pulled the blackthorn's sloes and brewed the gin of autumn’s  sun,
drank deep, then burned the sticks to keep alive until the thaw.
The Cailleach’s staff struck and brought the tedious vault of white   
where water was married to restless air in the couplings of the hag.
There are bruises for the hand that cracks the ice-crust on the well
and earth’s white cloak hisses on the coals of the worldsmith’s fire.

Once amber green my fingers tore the world-skin, meeting fire;
finding only the haunt of a look, a tendriled scent that fled the sun.
No living hand can draw your twisting wisp from that black well.
Only wishes' mist can pass between, and dust awaits the thaw
I hunker by a murdered fire and bandy curses with the hag,
who laughs and shrouds my hedgerow tight in her bands of white.

Yet there’s Another coming when the blackthorn flushes white
and the wind will thrash the greening twigs as all is cleansed in fire.
The spring will dance her mayday on the apron of the hag,
and unwind the days and bring her bag of blue that holds the sun.
The Cailleach will freeze, a standing stone before the thaw,
while her snow becomes white water rushing azure to the well.

So day’s full light expands and ice is melted from the well.
Tomorrow’s gin is brewing in the blackthorn’s buds of white.
Grass-green grow the seedlings as the hedgerow starts to thaw
and winter stubble burns but I’m still cold beside the fire.
The blood-burned breach still shows itself a curse beneath the sun.
The silvery white bride’s smile still flirts with the eyes of the hag.

But a bride might need a midwife someday, hidden in a hag
and a hag might be more than a  weight  best cast into the well.
The carcass of  dead caresses burns to ashes in the sun
and births a skin of amber green that swallows up the white.
Summer gives her pledge of life and bids me tend her fire,
and all her seed and kindred in the razor leaved hedgerow’s thaw.

Perhaps this year the sun will shine so clear and burning white
that the hag will laugh to see me in the mirror of the well
and I’ll forget the thing that’s broken as the world  begins to thaw

Posted for OneShotWednesday at the inimitable OneStopPoetry

For pronunciation of the word Cailleach, click here

I’ve borrowed heavily from Gaelic folklore in this piece, so I append a few background snippets to cast a little light on terms and definitions. Those interested in more detail can follow the wikipedia links:

Candlemas is a day of purification in the Christian faith often associated with the ancient Irish festival of Imbolc,  celebrated in early spring.
“… In Irish and Scottish mythology, the Cailleach …is a divine hag.. The word simply means 'old woman' in modern Scottish Gaelic.. The Cailleach evinces many traits fitting for the personified Winter:...she fights Spring, and her staff freezes the ground. …Some interpretations …describe the Cailleach as turning to stone on Bealltainn...

I’ve also made a few references to wells and fire that are associated with the Cailleach’s counterpart, Bridget or Bridhe, goddess of spring and summer, christainized as St Brigid.

Image: Cailleach  by RedDragon102857

Monday, January 24, 2011

Fever Dream

 Fever Dream

So many nights I go to bed alone
still thinking what I dream is what is real,
your name a vesper on my lips of stone.

The past is just a rind that I have thrown
beneath the churn of time’s unknowing wheel
that grinds the nights here as I sleep alone.

I hear your voice, a whisper made of bone.
I feel ghost arms that shut like traps of steel,
and pray for respite with my lips of stone

to ears made deaf, from which all care has flown,
that heed no word of mine, that will not feel
the burden of these nights I sleep alone.

I send my mind to sail on the unknown,
where fever dreams float ships that dip and reel,
and every seasick night I sleep alone.

The journey that I make can’t end in home
when nothing seen nor felt is ever real.
Yet still each night I go to bed alone
your name a vesper on my lips of stone.

January 2011

 posted at OneStopPoetry, Monday Poetry Form, Villanelle

Image : Golden Galleon by Jacques Moitoret

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Moment

The Moment

In the flying moment
a wisp of smoke
fast twisting and gone  
a book of lost patterns,
pages blown away

In the silent moment
the bartender pours a river
between opening
and closing time,
unheard by the crowd

In the changing moment
room for everything
time for almost
nothing  before
the door swings shut

In the turning moment
light perfects an angle
shows a  golden texture
hones reality to a turquoise dress
two cigars and a laugh.

In the perfect moment
there’s only time to
breathe it in and exhale it,
catch the random and be it,
in the moment.

January 2011

Posted for One Shoot Sunday at the inimitable OneStopPoetry

Saturday, January 22, 2011



The wind is from the west and blows the storm.
You’re grey in my thoughts,
blown across sky, my very grey matter,
puffed far like a cloud from a smoldering pipe,
blown quick as the cunning flight of grey doves
who understand the shadow of the hawk,
cloud pale with the cottony softness of mare’s tails
flying above waves to veil the sun’s glare
when the sea is finished with drama, content to be softened,
washing living and dead in its slow endless pulse.

You’ve lost all the red
angry words, the ice white silences
long ago and your soft words stir oatmeal smooth and
rumble, plump cats by the hearth fire, dozing near the embers.
Your voice is a lullabye, secret
and tender as a ruffled wren with a ruby glass heart,
clear as the night sky swinging her moonshot skirts,
pink mother of pearl, with the round white moon daughter
on her opalescent cushions gently
turning the bowl of sky to prism the earth with silver light.

You and I danced for for so long
circling our lives, wrapping the bands around the maypole,
weaving the yarns of years to make the tale
we now tell together, of   two journeys
that became one traveling, filled with the scarlet clamor of blood
and the black and purple bruises of grief,
across a mad planet to a place of moss and stone
where the dancers can rest, and the journey can end
with  the grey hairs of wisewomen and white
beards of wizards nodding together.

January 2010

Image : Old Man With Flowing Beard Looking Down Left
Rembrandt Van Rijn, courtesy, rembrandt online

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Off the Shelf Archive - January #2

It's once again time to refresh the Off the Shelf selection before the month of January swoops completely past, so W.H.Auden's excellent As I Walked Out One Evening is brought to the front to make room for a poem by the great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. Neruda (born Ricardo Eliezer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto) won the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1971, and  wrote in a wide range of forms and styles, from erotica to surrealism, from the short and direct to the book length and epic.

While Neruda's love poetry is unequaled, I've chosen Cat's Dream, as a poem that shows all of his gifts for image and illuminated language and is less commonly seen. It's always hard to believe reading Neruda that you're reading a translation; his words seem to be able to transcend those limitations.

As always, feel free to comment on either poem here, as comments are disabled off the main page, and also as always, suggestions for next time are welcome. I have only one rule(or only one I've made up so far, anyway,) and that's no repeats of the same poet within a year.(This keeps me from posting nothing but Wallace Stevens or Octavio Paz or whatever.) Previous Off the Shelf selections can be found here or by clicking the tag in the sidebar labeled Off the Shelf Archive.

 So without any more preamble, here's a last look at Auden's As I Walked Out One Evening:

As I Walked Out One Evening

As I walked out one evening,
     Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
     Were fields of harvest wheat.

And down by the brimming river
     I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
    “ Love has no ending.”

“I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you,
     Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
     And the salmon sing in the street,

“I’ll love till the ocean
     is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
     Like geese about the sky.

The years shall run like rabbits,
     For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
     And the first love of the world.”

But all the clocks in the city
     Began to whir and chime:
‘O let not Time deceive you,
     You cannot conquer Time.

“In the burrows of the Nightmare
     where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
     And coughs when you would kiss.

“In headaches and in worry
     Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
     Tomorrow or today.

“Into many a green valley
     Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
     And the diver’s brilliant bow.

“O plunge your hands in water,
     Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare at the basin
     And wonder what you’ve missed.

The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
     The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the teacup opens
     A line to the land of the dead.

“Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
     And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,
     And Jill goes down on her back.

“O look, look in the mirror,
     O look in your distress;
Life remains a blessing
     Although you cannot bless.

“O stand, stand at the window
     As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbor
     With all your crooked heart.”

It was late, late in the evening,
     The lovers they were gone.
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
     And the river deep ran on.

W. H. Auden      1940

Photo: courtesy google image search

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Grey Geese

Grey Geese

The long forgotten party
spilled out on the snow
away from the day's work, 
away from the houses,
and every winter journey
started there, where three women walked.

The first day was for cooking,
and the cleaning up after cooking.
The second day was for eating,
and the cleaning up after eating,
but the third belonged to the women
and they chose the frozen pond.

Just the three of them, leaving
behind the children tired but playing, 
the menfolk fed full and playing
with whiskey and cards in the back room.
They came to skate
but they meant to fly.

One was practical; she would always work
hard on the ice, skirts heavy, soon damp,
using her legs, pulling herself along
brow furrowed and bent to the purpose,
to make herself fly like the geese
who migrate because they have to.

The second woman was preening.
She piled her hair high, picked her fancy hat 
and her striped coat to twirl for the watchers.
Full of smiles for the performance,
she skated with show but precision, like
the geese form up in line.

The third woman was caged. She
came to skate out of her world.
She knew the ice was perfect, she knew her circles
and figure eights were the meaning
and pattern in things, like the geese know
how the sky leads away from winter.

The long forgotten party;
three women grey in the distance,
united in a vee    far out on the ice
         smiling and flying
away from the work, away from the houses.
Every winter journey started there.

January 2011
Posted for Magpie Tales #49

Photograph by Tess Kincaid, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Working Class Crab

Two Poems on the Crab

Working Class Crab

In the mind of a crab, the whole world’s something dead,
full of 12 hour days with no time to draw breath.
His benefits suck, but at least he’s well fed.
In the mind of a crab, the whole world’s something dead.

There’s no dancing, no love, not a thought in his head
about why he works on in the factory of death;
In the mind of a crab the whole world’s something dead,
full of 12 hour days with no time to draw breath.

The Crab and I

In the mind of a crab the whole world’s something dead
and hunger‘s the hell that he keeps in his head.
He trolls the long beach with his eyeballs on stalks
turning widdershins, searching as sideways he walks.

The joseph’s coat sunrise just doesn't exist,
nor the hot siren’s song nor the cool evening mist.
Crossing a footprint of Everest dimensions
has little to do with his will or intentions.

His work needs no family and no place of rest,
just a groping and hunger that’s only expressed
by ceaselessly searching in every tide-spring.
The mind of a crab makes the world a dead thing.

No self-awareness, no angst in his breast;
yet he and I both think the dead must taste best.
Like the crab I want nothing from anything new.
I eat a dead meal made from memories of you.

January 2011

Posted for OneShotWednesday at the inimitable OneStopPoetry

Photo: Sand Crab, by Petteri Sulonen

Sunday, January 16, 2011



Playing at love poured out in a twist stem crystal glass
clear ruby,with notes of cherry and madagascar vanilla bean,
I’m here to sing them straight from your lips, drinking in a kiss
heavier than the outlaw tang of saddle, earth and tobacco,
far sweeter, sunnier than cranberry, red current, ripe raspberry
chambered blackberry, or clamoring, astringent key lime.
I'll crush the garnet red fruit and bitter black together
tilt back my head and toss them down, the taste
teasing to a lingering earthy finish
(tangerine and nectarine)
with just a bit of pepper and
restrained use of oak.

It’s all nuanced
bright green
(and pears)
on the nose
of living
with a round
a mossy
(no kiwi)
to finish
short and dry
with perhaps a little heat,leaving behind
a fleeting hint of licorice and clove over wet stone.
A vintage year for pinot noir, chenin blanc and the occasional lover.

January 2011

Disclaimer: all these analogies and terms are commonly used in the world of wine critique. I simply rearranged them a bit in a silly shape to entertain myself (and hopefully the reader) on a very dull day.

Image: Rare Georgian Knopped Opaque Twist Wine Glass c1760, poetically described as
"A superb example of a triple knopped double series opaque twist ...antique wine glass. The bell bowl sits above a stem with a pair of heavy spiral threads outside of a loose central gauze, and with shoulder, medial, and basal knops. Conical foot with rough, snapped pontil...."  source link

Burn this Poem

Sleepless I rattle in my bed remembering
your kisses like the startled jump
of small restless animals rustling in the dead grass,
alive on my lips timid and scampering
like plump mice,
your turquoise eyes suddenly opened,
glowing like lamps in an empty house
throwing gold shadows on the snow of my heart

How can you be so prudent with me,
so measured and bespoken,
when all those elves and animals
are dancing inside?

 Such a year of being bound
has never been and
surely will not
be again.

That kiss
after many beers
and words--
are you just now
coming untied?

1991, revised January 2011

photo by Katherine Forbes

Posted for One Shoot Sunday at the inimitable One Stop Poetry

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Flash 55 ~ Goodbye Already

The Door

Adios So Long Farewell Goodbye Don’t Let the Door Hit Your Ass
On the Way Out

I seem always to
be saying it;
fainter and fainter,

Good by…..
Any other name I can call
looking at the back of
what’s walking away,
 waving my hand
like the ocean
at the shore.

Grief always running
after something shapeless
that won’t stick

No one there
to hear it
Aright then

November 2010

Thursday, January 13, 2011



It was the time of cold.
The water from the sky ran black like inky blood
and the tree in the dark storm was ripe for burning,
solitary acolyte in a serpentine ceremony of snow.

You kissed my summer dry palms
just before you ran to your winter white pack
far off along the indigo rim of night.
I heard the howling begin

without me. I pulled in the last syllable of stone,
and stripped to bare words. A single step danced me 
from maenad to anchoress, peering through the squint
at your unconsecrated communion.

January 2011

Submitted for the Monday January 10 Prompt at Big Tent Poetry, which was to utilize alliteration by choosing a letter, writing a word list, and using the ideas it generated for subject with a word from it for the title.

Photo: © Copyright Colin Smith and licensed for reuse under  Creative Commons License.
Cell of the anchoress Christine Carpenter, 14th Century. Shere, Surrey, UK 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Exercise in Metaphor

Exercise in Metaphor

Under the trashcan my rosemary lies, concealed to
endure bleeding hell in this intractable garden,
so far removed from your wild conception as a weed
for Aphrodite’s aromatic cloak, spun of the sky god’s seed,
living dew of that Attic sea from which the goddess rose
before Athens, white limbed and cold as fear.

You were her mantle of living warmth, austere.
You lived on sea spray and sun in the maritime dunes,
wild and free as the piping of Pan.
Your  needles mimic tongues philosophers ran
standing where grey pillars capped words of gold
now debased and traded from your native land.

You eke out your life a  commodity of man
in each fold of this foreign world that seeks your savor,
still giving your pale shy flowers to each rutting bee.
Here you’re made to stand against the burning dree
of American days, feet bound in clay unaccounted,
damped with calcareous tepid water shorn of salt.

When hard times come, I cage and darken you in a vault,
make you winter a cold that wracks your bluegreen bones.
Wind sucks them dry and bleeds you like a blade.
Still in death you give what’s asked from what you’ve made,
that undying and remembrance laden scent
that releases mnemonic prisoners from their cells.

But all’s forgotten now of what your fragrance tells;
how once you were the herb of bygone alchemists
boiled to bouillion in precise alembic wells;
for sweet union men once begged those body-spells.
Your arms were crowns in countless high endeavors.
Even crushed in death your juniper lingers.

Tonight the front freights down with frozen fingers.
Blue express of oblivion, dark wailing wind.
Across millenniums still the sky god gives and takes.
I bind you in  burlap, secure the shroud it makes,
cover you with a  plastic catafalque
meant for the dregs and detritus I buy,

and your last freedom, daughter of the sky,
is to choose if it’s better to live like this or die.

January 2011 

This is my entry for OneShotWednesday, at the inimitable OneStopPoetry

Image 1: West Front of the Parthenon, Edward Dodwell, 1821, Views from Greece
Image 2: Rosemarinus officianalis

Monday, January 10, 2011

Off the Shelf Archive-January #1

Yes, it's that time again. The archivist is finally bestirring herself to get up off her dyin' rear and provide some fresh fare for the Off the Shelf page.  

Off the Shelf features poems by my Favorite (Usually) Dead Poets, unless someone else requests a selection from one of their own favorite authors. Margaret Atwood's Sekhmet the Lion Headed Goddess of War will be dusted off and moved here, being replaced by 
As I Walked Out One Evening,   a long but rather quick read from W.H. Auden (1907-1973), Anglo-American poet known for a wide use of forms and techniques over a long and eventful career. As I Walked Out begins in a very cheery and almost commonplace manner, but read on, my friends, read on.

As always, feel free to make a suggestion for next time or to comment on either poem here, as comments are disabled off the main page. Older selections can be accessed by clicking here: 
Off the Shelf Archive     or on the label under Tags in the sidebar.

And now, Sekhmet makes her final appearance before retiring to the Archives:

Sekhmet, the Lion-Headed Goddess of War

He was the sort of man
who wouldn't hurt a fly.
Many flies are now alive
while he is not.
He was not my patron.
He preferred full granaries, I battle.
My roar meant slaughter.
Yet here we are together
in the same museum.
That's not what I see, though, the fitful
crowds of staring children
learning the lesson of multi-
cultural obliteration, sic transit
and so on.

I see the temple where I was born
or built, where I held power.
I see the desert beyond,
where the hot conical tombs, that look
from a distance, frankly, like dunces' hats,
hide my jokes: the dried-out flesh
and bones, the wooden boats
in which the dead sail endlessly
in no direction.

What did you expect from gods
with animal heads?
Though come to think of it
the ones made later, who were fully human
were not such good news either.
Favour me and give me riches,
destroy my enemies.
That seems to be the gist.
Oh yes: And save me from death.
In return we're given blood
and bread, flowers and prayer,
and lip service.

Maybe there's something in all of this
I missed. But if it's selfless
love you're looking for,
you've got the wrong goddess.

I just sit where I'm put, composed
of stone and wishful thinking:
that the deity who kills for pleasure
will also heal,
that in the midst of your nightmare,
the final one, a kind lion
will come with bandages in her mouth
and the soft body of a woman,
and lick you clean of fever,
and pick your soul up gently by the nape of the neck
and caress you into darkness and paradise
Margeret Atwood
Photo courtesy of wikimedia commons source link

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Poisoned Apple

Poisoned Apple

Green like money
Red like hell
Golden with promise
Eat the apple, innocents...
You won’t feel the poison
till tomorrow.

Before then you have time
to buy a box of gold
some ammo
to keep the brown ones down...

Plenty of time to
take a warm bible bath
move the constitution 
to your toilet paper spindle
use that flag of your fathers
for a blindfold
and kill my enemies.

You don’t have to grab, my child.
It’s all yours, my gift...
Shriveled dead skin.
Rotted pulp
Fermented and infested.
Did you like the apple?

Why don’t you answer?

January 9, 2011

Friday, January 7, 2011

Red Shoes

 Red Shoes 

A Rondel

She danced through the night. Her shoes were red.
She rang her bell of tulle and ribbons, dress of dreams.
The master cued her moves and sewed her seams
and made her body over like a doll’s without a head.

He choreographed her pas de deux, a masque of the dead.
She must be only air, her bones hollow as moonbeams.
She danced through the night. Her shoes were red,
stiff her bell of tulle and ribbons, dress of dreams,

She danced through the night. Her shoes were red,
though cream when she began the final themes.
She rang her bell of tulle and ribbons, dress of dreams.
Violins bowed the razor while she bled.
She danced through the night, her shoes were red.

January 2011

Red Shoes Photo by Lara Hartley, courtesy google image search

This was written for Annell Livingston and her Red Shoes Project

Also posted for the One Shoot Sunday photo prompt, which was this picture by KJ Halliday: